With its brightly coloured oval leaves, the croton really is a work of art. Each glossy leaf has a vivid variegated pattern and is splashed with red, orange, pink, yellow or green. It’s not the easiest plant to look after, but with the right care and attention it makes the perfect - and unusual - centrepiece for your collection.
Native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and the western Pacific islands, the croton enjoys hot, humid climates. If yours is feeling the cold you’ll notice some leaf drop, so keep it in a warm, bright room and away from cool draughts. This croton likes their soil to be moist, so water regularly with lukewarm water when the top inch or two feels dry. Too much water and it will drop leaves. Too little water and it will drop leaves. Water that’s too cold? You guessed it, it will drop leaves! But, if you can get the balance right, you’ll be rewarded with a striking display of multicoloured foliage.
Feeding your plant once or twice a month in spring and summer will help it make the biochemicals that create such fabulous leaves. To keep those leaves vibrant, make sure your plant gets plenty of indirect bright light - the more light it gets, the more colourful the leaves will be. If your plant is getting a lot of sunlight, keep an eye out for sunburn on the leaves. A croton can survive in lower light levels, but the leaves won’t be quite as impressive.
Did you know?
Croton sap is poisonous, so remember to wear gloves if you’re getting up close and personal.